Thursday, September 1, 2016

A melinjo tree and a movie night

The drapes are swept back to let in the light and the office door is open. It's not yet hot in the early morning. The wind coming up the valley stirs the bamboo chimes along the edge of our porch.

I glance out the door. Our house sits on a mountain: an airplane cruises by below eye level against the blue background of sky. It drops behind a highrise on the next hill to land at the airport. A pile of shoes sits just outside: outdoor shoes are removed as soon as people step onto the patio tiles.

We keep a rack of flip-flops and other indoor shoes near the entry. The rules of culture are strict about boundaries: only those of Chinese heritage might keep their walking shoes on in the house. The others will all remove them at the step up to the patio or on the landing stoop. (My German mom taught me to take my shoes of in the house, so we do it automatically.)

The chants of a new caller echo off the hills from a mosque tower nearby. There must be a special day: I've heard him at 4, 7, and now at 9:30 he keeps going. He has a great voice, compared to others who may sound shrill, growling, and everything between. As always when we hear the Muslim prayers, we pray for the chantor, his family, his village, and all those who seek a relationship with God.

Sunday, August 28, 2016
The Bible studies today and Monday are smaller than usual; people are traveling or ill.

But at Sunday lunch, we have a lively discussion on the role of the Holy Spirit and how we experience Spirit baptism. Lunch is at Bumi Resto of course. Delicious and very reasonably priced to boot.

"Would you like to come with me to Exercise for the Elderly," asks DrW. Of course I would. (I would?) My neighbor rings the bell at the gate at 8 for our walk to the neighborhood park. The government supplies the health curriculum.

Seven or eight women stretch, chop at one arm with the other, and march in place. It feels surprisingly good. But I have to smile every time I think of the group name. EE.(k!)

In anticipation of a busy weekend, W and I celebrate our 39th anniversary with a fact-finding trip that's more pleasant than some we've done: supper at the Padma Hotel. It's a half-kilometer walk in the dark from our house. We pass heaps of trash bags stacked along the road for tomorrow's sorting, clumps of friends chatting or eating at mom-and-pop food carts, and overflowing parking lots at the popular restaurants. The shrill whistles of the parking attendants part the night air.

The hotel is 6 or 7 gorgeous floors of rooms, fitness centers, balconies, and restaurants built into the side of our hill. It's first-class in every way, including the fresh 7-foot-tall lily and tropical flowers on display in the foyer.

The restaurant hangs off the edge of the mountain. Clouds swirl across the valley and dance past our table. Bats flit and swoop beside the terrace to catch insects attracted by the floodlights in the valley below.
30' trees bloom far below our table as the clouds fly by
A huge toad sits by the side of the road as we walk home.

In the afternoon, our Brazilian friends and their two kids arrive from Singapore. Josue was initially my student in his masters program and then Waldemar's. J invited me to lunch with his family during our class week - and that was the beginning of our friendship. W and I room with them when we make visa runs; they live with us when they're nearby.

Tonight is our monthly movie night. The guys move the furniture into place and W sets up the projector. He also barbecues 5 kg (11 lbs) of chicken wings with Josue's help. Bonus recipe below ( dated Nov. 1988). I made this marinade early in the day:


  • In a big pot filled with water, boil 2-3 lbs of chicken wings.
  • Drain, cool, and dip the wings in scrambled egg. 
  • Then roll them in 1 c cornflakes, 2 c flour and seasonings (1 tbsp total of salt, pepper, thyme, sage, poultry seasoning, marjoram, oregano, or whatever)
  • Preheat the oven to 350o.
  • Brown the wings in oil. Spread them single-layed in a baking pan. 
  • Make the sauce and pour it over the chicken. 
  • Bake for 1 hour, turning the chicken once. = BEST EVER.

1 c vinegar
1 c brown sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 c chicken broth
1/2 c ketchup

The freezer purchased by our Canadian partners has been a godsend. I don't have to bake a thing today: instead, I fill two huge trays with cookies from the freezer. I baked 2 loaves of bread yesterday, so today is easier than usual. I cook curry sauce for sausages, heat Sunda-style nangka (jackfruit) made by Ibu A, and prepare vegetables, rice, and a few other dishes.

Last but not least, I draw toilet signs with a Sharpee marker on packing tape and stick them on the walls. (We have a traditional and a Western toilet; expats and Indonesians use both - but they have to walk through the kitchen to get there.)

The helper comes today at 3pm instead of early morning to scrub bathrooms and wash the floors. The dust from the hills makes it a constant challenge to keep things clean. Even with a daily sweep and wet mop, our foot soles become black unless we wear flip-flops inside the house.

Ibu S makes sure there's a second helping of rice during the meal and does dishes. We send leftovers and other goodies along when her husband comes for her on their motor (cycle) at 10pm.

Over 30 guests of all ages show up. Many of our regulars are traveling or have other obligations. It's always a guessing game as to how many will come. About 10 are new; they rave about the food and we all enjoy the tearjerker of a movie, Hachi. The questions of the night: "What does faithfulness mean to you? When might it be most important for us to be faithful?"

As always, the discussion is shy and slow at the beginning. A few share their stories - sad and happy. One is missing her faithful pet, a cat who usually waits for her at the gate. After the formal questions end, we pray together. (The cat shows up the very next day, after being gone over a week. God even knows how to bring a cat back.)

Then the lively conversations start. The night is well gone by the time we wave goodbye and the last motorcycles putt-putt out the gate. We lock up and let Gypsy off his leash. He barks at the guest who will sleep over on the driver's cot. Quiet settles as the dog starts his night watch of the yard. We head him padding back and forth.

Ibu A and I have our work cut out for us, cleaning up and putting dishes back in place. Some spills have dried on the IKEA sofa, so I change the cover. Ibu A puts the slipcover in our washer and hangs it to dry on the laundry roof. (The men will move the heavy items back in place in late afternoon, after floors, surfaces, and furniture are washed and vacuumed.)

I stay home from the walk with the kids. Claudia straps on my Teva hiking sandals and heads for the hills with Waldemar and Josue while I watch the two six-year-olds. Looks like the walking group has a great time.

The two six-year-olds do homework with me (poor kiddos). Well, that's not all: they play ball and beanbag toss in the yard, read books, and eat delicious fried rice, cooked by Ibu Apong.

It's time for the tomato harvest in the nearby fields. Bushel baskets of fruit stack up at the end of the rows.

A man comes to cut the lawn with his machete. He climbs the melinjo tree for nuts and leaves. I send half his bagfull with Ibu A: she will make a salty sour soup with the rest for lunch on Saturday.

Supper is at Miss Bee. We're too tired to cook and it's getting late.

I connect with my friend Kim online for an hour in the evening. And W and I exhale with an episode of a Korean drama before bed at 11.

It's EE (Exercise for the Elderly) at 8. Chop chop. My back feels all stretched out when I tackle grading and interaction with students in my online class.

Read more:
*You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." Psalm 56:8 NEV

*Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! Psalm 66:16-20 NIV

*The Lord made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3 ESV

*Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people. 1 Peter 2:10 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Good and gentle Shepherd, you claim us as your own. Even more, you call us by name. When we are rebellious and stray from the paths you’ve set before us, you seek us out and bring us back to the safety of the fold. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment